PLOT Two elderly neighbors decide to strike up something like a romance.
CAST Jane Fonda, Robert Redford, Matthias Schoenaerts
NOT RATED (adult themes)
PLAYING AT Starts Friday on Netflix; also screening at iPic Theaters in Manhattan
BOTTOM LINE A disappointingly subdued reunion for Fonda and Redford.
Jane Fonda and Robert Redford play small-town neighbors in “Our Souls at Night,” a late-life love-story directed by Ritesh Batra. The characters seem about the same age as the actors — 79 and 81, respectively — which may explain why Fonda’s Addy Moore wastes little time hemming or hawing when she pays a visit to Redford’s Louis Waters. She cuts right to the chase:
“Would you be interested in coming to my house sometime to sleep with me?”
Not sexually, she assures him, just for some nighttime companionship. Addy and Louis have survived their spouses, their children are grown and she, for one, feels lonely. Louis wavers, but it’s tough to turn down such a forthright request. And so he finds himself knocking at Addy’s door, holding a paper bag with a change of clothes.
It’s an endearing setup, and “Our Souls at Night” promises a poignant reunion for Fonda and Redford, two screen legends who first played frisky lovers 50 years ago in “Barefoot in the Park” (1967). Back then, he cut a handsome figure in a serious suit, while she looked fetching in nothing but his dress-shirt. Today, their magnetism may not be of the animal variety, but they remain infinitely watchable, two consummate professionals utterly at ease in their own bodies, and with each other.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that “Our Souls at Night” turns out to be a disappointingly low-energy love story, and age isn’t the problem.
Based on Kent Haruf’s novel, the movie simply refuses to have any fun with its premise or its characters. The talk is always serious and straightforward, never wry or naughty. There are few secondary characters to liven things up, though Bruce Dern, as one of Louis’ coffee-shop buddies, cackles suggestively a few times. A subplot involving Addy’s troubled son, Gene (Matthias Schoenaerts), and his little boy (Iain Armitage), adds some obligatory pathos.
That’s too bad, because “Our Souls at Night” had all the makings of something tender, funny and sexy. Would it be too much to ask Redford and Fonda to try again?